||Ricky Helton Wilson
March 19, 1953|
Athens, Georgia, United States
||October 12, 1985
New York City, United States
||Instrumentalist, musician, singer-songwriter
||Guitar, bass guitar, keyboards
The B-52's, Black Narcissus, Loon,
Tom Verlaine, The Zambo Flirts
Ricky Helton Wilson (March 19, 1953 – October 12, 1985) was an American musician best known as the original guitarist and founding member of rock band
the B-52's. Born in
Athens, Georgia, Wilson was the brother of fellow member
Cindy Wilson. The B-52's were founded in 1977, when Ricky, his sister Cindy,
Keith Strickland and
Fred Schneider shared a tropical
flaming volcano drink at a Chinese restaurant and, after an impromptu
music session at the home of their friend, Owen Scott III, played for the first time at a
Valentine's Day party for friends.
 Wilson's unusual guitar tunings were a large contribution to the band's quirky sound.
On October 12, 1985, at the age of 32, Wilson died from complications related to
AIDS following the recording of the band's fourth studio album
Bouncing Off the Satellites. According to
Keith Strickland, the album had been completed and mixed before Wilson's death, with only the cover art not yet designed (an illustration by
Kenny Scharf was ultimately decided upon). Devastated, the band went into seclusion and did not tour to promote the album, although they did several photo shoots and TV appearances, as well as filming a video for "Girl from Ipanema Goes to Greenland".
In addition to his work with The B-52's, Wilson played the guitar on the song "Breakin' in My Heart" on
self-titled debut album in 1979. This was his only non-B-52's appearance on record. He also appeared in various films, namely
One Trick Pony. Posthumously he also appeared in
Athens, GA: Inside/Out,
The B-52's 1979-1989, and
The B-52's Time Capsule: Videos for a Future Generation 1979-1998 through archival footage.